Stirling went down to only their third defeat of the season on Tuesday evening as Stranraer boosted their play-off hopes with a crucial victory in the spring sunshine.
Andy Stirling’s second-half goal was decisive and the Binos had Jordan McGregor sent off in the closing stages. Albion remain third in the League 2 table going into Saturday’s 12 noon kick-off at Cowdenbeath before they host second-placed Edinburgh City at Forthbank on Tuesday.
A win would have moved Stirling 10 points clear of Stranraer and all but secure a play-off spot but instead that cushion has been cut to four and the post-split fixtures will now be less comfortable.
The Blues had suffered back-to-back defeats to Elgin City and Edinburgh City and badly needed the three points at Forthbank before they hosted Stenhousemuir in a match brought forward due to Sunday’s Scottish Cup last-16 tie with Queen of the South.
Stevie Farrell’s men deserved this win. They were the more cohesive side and enjoyed more of the game. Stirling did threaten at times but badly missed top scorer Andy Ryan, who scored one and made the other in the 2-1 weekend victory at Annan Athletic.
Paul McLean and Aldin El Zubaidi again missed out through injury for the second meeting of the sides this season – the first encounter at Stair Park ended in a 2-2 draw. This was Stranraer’s first visit to Forthbank since a 1-0 victory in 2014/15 – a campaign that ended in relegation from League 1 for the Binos.
The first half didn’t see too many clear-cut openings but the visitors looked the better team and had more possession. They almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion when a 50-yard effort bounced against the bar but the referee had already blown for a free-kick in their favour in any case.
Blair Currie saved from Adam Cummins before Stirling enjoyed their best spell of the 90 minutes towards the end of the first half. Declan Byrne should have broken the deadlock but keeper Greg Fleming did just enough to keep out his low drive and also managed to recover the rebound.
Jordan Kirkpatrick headed over early in the second half but it was Stranraer who went in front after 57 minutes with a lovely goal on the break. Darryl Duffy – Albion’s top scorer last season – sent Stirling clear and he ran on and beat Currie with a composed finish low into the net.
The visitors managed the game well after that and there were few signs the Binos could conjure up an equaliser, even after the introduction of Dylan Bikey with 20 minutes left for his first appearance of the season.
Stranraer played some nice stuff and only a couple of last-ditch tackles prevented further damage but, with five minutes left, McGregor’s challenge on the impressive Stirling was late and merited his second booking as Albion ended the match a goal down and a man down.
Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie (Allan 78), Eadie, Banner, McGregor, K Roberts, Byrne (Heaver 58), Wilson (Bikey 69), Mackin, Kirkpatrick (Leitch 58), S Roberts (Moore 58). Subs (not used): Binnie (GK), Hamilton, Docherty, Meggatt.
Stranraer: Fleming, Robertson, Burns, Cummins, Sonkur, McManus, Hilton, Millar, Duffy (Orr 67), Stirling, Paton (Elliott 88). Subs (not used): Jamie Walker (GK), Victoria, Taylor, Devitt, Yates, Hamill, Josh Walker.
Goal: Stirling 57
Referee: Duncan Williams